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Your local and regional news for Northeastern Kansas and the surrounding communities, brought to you by the KPR news staff.

BORDER SHOWDOWN COMPLETE: Kansas Moves on as KU / MU Rivalry Ends in Epic Jayhawk Victory

Two days after clinching at least a share of the Big 12 regular season championship...the eighth straight for the Kansas Jayhawks...they're back in action tonight (MON) at Oklahoma State. But after Saturday's epic battle against the Missouri Tigers, the prevailing question is "What's next?" Kansas Public Radio's Greg Echlin has the story.
 
 
 

Brownback Not Interested in Keeping KU-Missouri Rivalry Alive

Brownback speaking to reporters at the Statehouse. (Photo by Stephen Koranda)Governor Sam Brownback says he has no interest in maintaining the rivalry between the University of Kansas and the University of Missouri after the Tigers leave the Big 12. Brownback says Missouri is to blame for the series ending after more than 100 years. He says Missouri's talk of leaving the Big 12 nearly tore the conference apart.

 

Brownback made his comments today (FRI), on the eve of the last scheduled men's basketball game between the Jayhawks and Tigers.

 

Rumsfeld at Ft. Leavenworth: Time to Update UN and NATO

The United Nations and NATO need to be updated for the 21st Century.  That's according to former U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who spoke earlier today (FRI) at Fort Leavenworth.

Rumsfeld is currently on tour, promoting his new memoir, "Known and Unknown."  He also spoke ay (FRI) at the Truman Presidential Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri.

 

Ex-Topeka Bank Vice President Guilty of Bank Fraud

A former vice president at Heritage Bank in Topeka has pleaded guilty to a federal charge of bank fraud.  Federal prosecutors say 40-year-old Jennifer Hughes-Boyles, of Topeka, pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud.  In her plea, she agreed to the forfeiture of more than $596,000.  Hughes-Boyles admitted that the crime took place in 2011, while she was a vice president of Heritage Bank.  Her duties included residential and commercial lending, consumer lending and foreclosed properties transactions.

Bank officials began investigating when they noticed that from March to May of 2011, Hughes-Boyles originated more than $2 million in real estate loans in spite of economic conditions at the time. Bank officials also noticed changes in her lifestyle during that time, including the purchase of a late model Corvette.  An audit determined that she was providing false documentation to the bank’s loan committee by fabricating or altering credit scores on loan applications.


In one instance, Hughes-Boyles purchased a duplex that was in foreclosure for $180,000. On the same day, she resold the property to a buyer she had qualified for a loan at Heritage Bank. The new buyer purchased the property for $325,000. In reality, though, the new buyer did not make a down payment to Hughes-Boyles, which was a violation of the bank’s rules and created the false appearance that the new buyer had equity in the transaction.

Sentencing for Highes-Boyles is set for May 30.  She faces a maximum penalty of 30 years and a fine up to $1 million.

Topeka and other KS Cities to Lose USPS Mail Processing Centers

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The United States Postal Service plans to consolidate seven mail processing centers in Kansas to reduce costs.  The Postal Service said in a news release that the processing center in Topeka will be consolidated with one in Kansas City, Missouri. Centers in Hays, Salina, Dodge City and Hutchinson will be consolidated with the processing and distribution center in Wichita.  Officials say work at the Liberal processing center will be moved to Amarillo, Texas and the Colby processing center operations will move to North Platte, Nebraska.  No specific dates have been set for the consolidation. Once the centers are consolidated, mail processing work will end but retail and business activity at the seven centers will continue.

"Fake Beard Bandit" Admits to Hitting Banks in 4 States, Including KS

Jason Day, the so-called Fake Beard Bandit. (Photo Courtesy of 5newsonline.com) FORT SMITH, Ark. (AP) — An Oklahoma man nicknamed the "Fake Beard Bandit" has pleaded guilty to eight bank robberies in Kansas, Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.  Jason Andrew Day entered his plea yesterday (THUR) in federal court in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Day was arrested on August 26th, three days after a Liberty Bank in Fort Smith was robbed.  Court records show that Day is accused of taking more than $70,000 from banks in Shawnee and Olathe, Kansas -- as well as banks in Fort Smith, Arkansas; Oklahoma City and Coweta, Oklahoma and  Joplin, Missouri.  Prosecutors say Day entered the banks wearing a large, obviously fake beard. He demanded money while brandishing what police later learned was a BB gun that looked like a handgun.  His sentencing has not yet been set. A public defender representing Day didn't immediately return a message seeking comment.

Regional Headlines for Friday, February 24, 2012

 

KS Senate Rejects Health "Freedom" Proposal

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Senate has narrowly rejected a proposed amendment to the state constitution aimed at challenging a key federal mandate on health care.  Yesterday's (THUR) vote on the so-called health care "freedom" amendment was 26-14 in favor, but backers needed a two-thirds majority, or 27 of 40 votes.  The Senate's decision came after members revised the measure so that a statewide vote on the proposition would have occurred only if the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the federal health care overhaul of 2010.  The amendment would have declared that Kansans have the right to refuse to buy health insurance. A provision in the federal health care overhaul requires most Americans to buy insurance, starting in 2014.  Critics argue that if the federal law is upheld, the Kansas measure would be meaningless.

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KC Star Newspaper Building Windows Shot at, Damaged by Vandals

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Police are reviewing surveillance footage hoping to learn who has been shooting out windows at the Kansas City Star's downtown production facility.  The newspaper reports the most recent damage was discovered yesterday (THUR) morning on the west side of the building. Two other incidents since late January involved windows shot on the facility's north side.  The Star says it costs about $7,000 to fix each of the large windows. Vandals targeted the large, mostly glass building just south of the Sprint Center dozens of times before its opening in 2006. In two years before the facility opened, 46 of its windows were damaged.  No employees were hurt in any of the shootings, but Star officials say the building is occupied almost around the clock.

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KS Senator's Office Receives Suspicious Letter

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The FBI is investigating a suspicious letter sent to the downtown Wichita office of Kansas Senator Pat Roberts, one of several congressional offices around the country receiving similar letters in recent days.  KWCH-TV reports the letter containing a white, powdery substance arrived at the office yesterday (THUR).  Traffic was restricted in the area while police and hazardous materials crews investigated.  The FBI says no hazardous material has been found so far in similar letters sent to district offices of members of Congress around the country.  Roberts' communications director, Sarah Little, says the Kansas Republican was in Topeka yesterday (THUR), and two staff members were in the Wichita office. Little says the office will reopen today (FRI).  

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KS House Approves Bill on Unemployment Insurance

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas House has approved a bill that could reduce benefits to some unemployed Kansans while cutting unemployment rates paid by new employers.  Under the bill, unemployment benefits would be reduced for a person who receives a lump-sum separation or severance payment. The reduced benefits would continue for the number of weeks that the lump sum represents.  The bill also would reduce the unemployment insurance contribution rates.  The Lawrence Journal World reports that supporters tout the bill as a way to create jobs in Kansas. Critics said employers' contributions rates shouldn't be cut at a time when the state already is struggling to pay unemployment benefits.  The measure now goes to the Senate for consideration.

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Suburban KC Man Held on Charge of Making Child Porn

PLATTE CITY, Mo. (AP) — A suburban Kansas City man has been accused of creating child pornography involving a 9-year-old girl.  The Platte County prosecutor's office says 30-year-old Raymond Appling of Ferrelview, was charged with promoting child pornography and invasion of privacy. He was being held in the county jail on $75,000 cash bond.  Authorities said Kansas City police searched Appling's home earlier this month and found a camera they allege was used to make pornographic pictures found last year in the home of a Denver man. FBI agents in California said a San Diego man told authorities he had given the camera to Appling.  Online court records did not list a lawyer for Appling. A call to a phone number listed for that name was unanswered.

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Mars Candy Company Can't Build Wind Turbine at Topeka Plant

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Mars company won't be allowed to build a wind turbine at its Topeka plant because it would interfere with airspace at nearby Forbes Field.  Topeka Airport Authority officials say any tall structure built at the Kanza Fire Commerce Park where the plant is located would severely limit use of Forbes Field.  Mars had planned to build a 300-foot-tall turbine before being told by the Federal Aviation Administration that it was not allowed.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Mars officials say they are now seeking permission to build a solar field at the plant. The company has said it plans to build the $250 million manufacturing plant to include high environmental standards.

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KC Parks Board: Budget Cuts Could Devastate City Parks

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Members of Kansas City's parks board say proposed cuts of $5 million will devastate parks and community centers.  Board members told the City Council yesterday (THUR) that the cuts could mean closed pools, minimal tree trimming and few repairs to community centers, among other things.  The Kansas City Star reports that the City Council has to adopt a budget next month.  Parks board members also point out that park staffing has already dropped by 170 positions, a 35 percent reduction since 2000. They also say the elimination of the greenhouse has left some park landscaping in poor shape.  City Manager Troy Schulte said finding $2 million for parks will require cuts from some other worthy department, and there's no easy source for those funds.

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KS Nurse Faces Sentencing for Drug Tampering

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas nurse who diluted morphine solutions at a Salina nursing home is due in court for sentencing.  Melanie Morrison is scheduled be sentenced today (FRI) in federal court in Topeka for consumer product tampering and adulteration of a drug at the Holiday Resort Nursing Facility in Salina.  Morrison admitted putting sodium chloride into solutions of morphine sulfate, reducing the painkiller's quality and strength. Sodium chloride is dangerous to some patients, particularly those with congestive heart failure or severe renal insufficiency.  Morrison struck a deal with prosecutors that could send her to prison for three years. She also agreed to surrender her nursing license and never work in health care again.  Prosecutors are recommending she be admitted to a drug addiction program, which could get her out of prison early.

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Bill Changing Court Appointments Stalls in KS Legislature

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Many abortion opponents and conservative Republicans in Kansas are pushing to give the governor and legislators more influence over the appointment of appellate court judges.  But a proposal seen as a step toward accomplishing their goals has stalled in the Legislature.  The state Senate has rejected a bill to have the governor appoint new Court of Appeals judges, subject to Senate confirmation. The measure would end the screening of applications for the court by a nominating commission controlled by attorneys.  The Senate's 22-17 vote against the measure Thursday showed Democrats and moderate Republicans still have misgivings about changing how Court of Appeals judges and state Supreme Court justices are selected.  However, there are concerns that the process is dominated unfairly by lawyers and not open enough to the public.

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USPS Consolidating 7 Mail Processing Centers in KS

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The United States Postal Service plans to consolidate seven mail processing centers in Kansas to reduce costs.  The Postal Service said in a news release that the processing center in Topeka will be consolidated with one in Kansas City, Missouri. Centers in Hays, Salina, Dodge City and Hutchinson will be consolidated with the processing and distribution center in Wichita.  Officials say work at the Liberal processing center will be moved to Amarillo, Texas and the Colby processing center operations will move to North Platte, Nebraska.  No specific dates have been set for the consolidation. Once the centers are consolidated, mail processing work will end but retail and business activity at the seven centers will continue.

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So-Called "Fake Beard Bandit" Admits to Robberies in 4 States

FORT SMITH, Ark. (AP) — An Oklahoma man nicknamed the "Fake Beard Bandit" has pleaded guilty to eight bank robberies in Kansas, Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.  Jason Andrew Day entered his plea yesterday (THUR) in federal court in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Day was arrested on August 26th, three days after a Liberty Bank in Fort Smith was robbed.  Court records show that Day is accused of taking more than $70,000 from banks in Fort Smith; Oklahoma City; Coweta, Oklahoma; Shawnee and Olathe (oh-LAY'-thuh), Kansas; and Joplin, Missouri.  Prosecutors say Day entered the banks wearing a large, obviously fake beard. He demanded money while brandishing what police later learned was a BB gun that looked like a handgun.  His sentencing has not yet been set. A public defender representing Day didn't immediately return a message seeking comment.  

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KS Senate Approves Increased Fines for 2 Highways

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Senate has approved a bill that would double fines on two busy state highways. The bill approved Thursday would double fines on Kansas Highway 10 between Lawrence and Johnson County and U.S. 54 in Wichita. It now goes to the House of consideration. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the Kansas Department of Transportation would add signs alerting drivers that they were on safety corridors and telling them about the increased fines.

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Lawrence Police Release More Info about Ticket-Fixing Scandal

  

The Lawrence Police Department has released more information about a ticket-fixing scheme involving at least two officers. The allegations concern the possibility that officers "fixed" traffic citations in exchange for tickets to University of Kansas sporting events.

 

In a statement issued today (FRI), Police Chief Tarik Khatib said:

 

"The investigation thus far has found that one commissioned employee had a friendship relationship with a former employee of the KU Athletic Department. This relationship existed for some time and dates back to the late 1990s or early 2000s. As part of this relationship, the commissioned employee received free, discounted or otherwise special access to certain athletic events over the several years. At some point in the relationship, the former KU Athletic Department employee requested assistance with traffic citations. The investigation found that over the course of nine years the commissioned employee assisted in the fixing of at least six citations... 'Fixing' is defined as the voiding of an issued citation before it is transferred to Municipal Court, the request for dismissal from Municipal Court, or intervening before the citation is issued.

 

During the course of events, the commissioned employee asked a second commissioned employee two to three times for assistance in the fixing of the citations. This second employee may have been the beneficiary of KU Athletic event tickets through the first employee. The other citations were fixed by asking the officers that issued or were about to issue a citation to void or not issue it. The requests to those officers were conveyed as a favor for the two commissioned employees and not one in which the issuing officer knowingly received anything in return. The FBI’s investigation did not disclose sufficient evidence to go forward with the prosecution of bribery or other criminal offenses that the United States Attorney’s Office could pursue. However, this conduct violates the Department’s gratuity and solicitation policies."

 

Chief Khatib stated further that one of the commissioned officers is no longer an employee of the department. One additional commissioned employee remains suspended pending the conclusion of their personnel investigation. He said his department continues to attempt to identify any further incidents and, at this time, no other suspensions are anticipated.

 

 

 

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